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(Yonhap Interview) Artist finds sense of purpose by chasing auroras

2017/11/17 16:47

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By Woo Jae-yeon

SEOUL, Nov. 17 (Yonhap) -- Artist Jun Myung-ja never forgets the night when she first witnessed the natural wonder of an aurora in Iceland in 1995. She felt as if God gave her a new sense of purpose in life.

"I felt like God opened up a new path for me by revealing the beautiful colors of the Vault of Heaven and told me why I had no choice but to paint about it," Jun said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency before a press briefing at Sun Gallery on Friday.

"I can't express in words what I felt at that time," the 75-year-old artist said.

In a note right after seeing the auroras, she described her feelings in detail: "It was the best show of nature. They are the lights of Heaven. Facing the blue-green lights, I strongly felt like I was melting down."

   It continued, "I imagined beyond the aurora lies the infinite universe where there exists a planet as beautiful as the Earth is and living creatures like human beings."

  

Artist Jun Myung-ja talks during a press briefing on her new solo exhibition "Over the Aurora" at Sun Gallery in Seoul on Nov. 17 (Yonhap) Artist Jun Myung-ja talks during a press briefing on her new solo exhibition "Over the Aurora" at Sun Gallery in Seoul on Nov. 17 (Yonhap)

Since that incredible experience of seeing the natural phenomenon in her own eyes and the ensuing moment of spiritual enlightenment, she's become fixated on capturing its beauty on canvas. She's traveled to countries in northern latitudes around 10 times to chase the aurora.

"I've been lucky enough to watch auroras four times so far. It is definitely a fountain of inspiration for me."

   She lived in France for 11 years after she earned her Master's at Paris American Academy in 1995. She taught at the school as a professor and won numerous art awards in Seoul and Paris. Her decadeslong steadfast work on auroras has earned her the nickname of "the aurora painter."

   She is scheduled to hold an exhibition titled "Over the Aurora" at Sun Gallery in Insadong, Seoul, on Nov. 23-Dec. 6. It is her 46th solo show in her artistic career that began in the late '60s.

The exhibition shows some 30 pieces of her latest paintings and installations that are filled with a sense of happiness, love and warmth glowing under the fantastical, mystical light show of the Earth.

The image provided by Sun Gallery in Seoul on Nov. 17, 2017 shows Jun Myung-ja's "Over the Aurora" in 2017. (Yonhap) The image provided by Sun Gallery in Seoul on Nov. 17, 2017 shows Jun Myung-ja's "Over the Aurora" in 2017. (Yonhap)

Her depiction of the magical auroras often comes with people -- mostly playing musical instruments -- in miniature. Painting people at a small size is meant to emphasize how trivial and small they are in the wild vastness of nature, she said.

Having played a violin since she was young and still a huge fan of classical music, music takes center stage in the creation of her art.

"Music is the bridge that connects Heaven and Earth. I try to visualize the sounds of people playing in an orchestra in the form of auroras."

   Through this exhibition, she wants to express her gratitude for her family's full support and love for all those years which, she says, has been the backbone of her successful career.

"The subtitle of this exhibition is 'Family Outing in Picture.' I wouldn't be here had it not been for my family's support."

   "I hope my paintings give gallerygoers peace of mind and comfort. That is all I want," she said.

This image, provided by Sun Gallery in Seoul on Nov. 17, 2017, shows Jun Myung-ja's "Harmonie Naturelle" in 2017. (Yonhap) This image, provided by Sun Gallery in Seoul on Nov. 17, 2017, shows Jun Myung-ja's "Harmonie Naturelle" in 2017. (Yonhap)

jaeyeon.woo@yna.co.kr

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